The MGA With An Attitude
LEGAL CARS and TITLES - Example 1 -- BUY-102A

Some years ago, someone posted on the mgs e-mail lilst describing a lawsuit in which the bulk of a car was seperated from its VIN tag and the owners of each both claimed to have the original car.
The original archive link has since failed, but the post is reproduced below.

From: "Duncan C. Bull"
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 96 14:49:03 -0700

It's had a new handle, and maybe a head........ but it's still the original axe !!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I recently handled a case involving Cobra CSX2049 in which the question was "what is a car." My client has most of the original car in the form of a stack of parts remaining after it was crashed at Riverside International Raceway killing the driver. He also has continuous chain of title with Cal DMV.
      Another car which claims to be CSX2049 exists in Penn. and claims to have the original front suspension tower including the original VIN stampings. My client discarded the front tower when he modified his car from worm and sector to rack and pinion steering.
      Acting on a complaint from the Penn. owner, and with the advice of the Cobra Club, the Cal DMV cancelled my client's title because he didn't have that front tower and original VIN stamping.
      We sued DMV to reinstate title and DMV resisted. They were assisted by an attorney retained by the Penn owner.
      After trial the Cal Court declared that our car (parts?) was the original and ordered DMV to recognize our ownership. It also decalred the Penn car a copy.
      DMV, with the same assistance, appealed the ruling. I cited the 1992 case over Old Bently No One from the Queens Bench and the question really became "what is a car." In that case it was held that a car is its progeny, that is its total history. It isn't a part or collection of parts, or percentage of parts. Especially race cars are intended to evolve over time. If you change both the handle and the head the question is did you intend to repair or improve the old one, or build a new one.
      Unfortunately the DMV attorney was inept and lost the appeal on procedure so an opinion never got published. Sad! One justice later remarked at a speaking event that his opinion had been written but he would not tell even who prevailed in it.
      You may still find the Penn car advertised in Hemming's at the "repro" value.


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